GUILD NAVIGATOR (DUNE)
Dune Universe by Frank Herbert
A Guild Navigator was a senior rank of artificially super evolved humans within the Spacing Guild, and for many Guildsmen the pinnacle of their ambitions. Mutated through the consumption of and exposure to massive amounts of the spice Melange, Navigators are able to use a mentally conditioned and trained form of prescience to safely navigate interstellar and galactic space in long range starships called Heighliners.
Guild Navigators were responsible for guiding space-faring ships (spacefolders) through the mine-field of gravitational obstacles that lay between a source and a target. They accomplished this feat by using prescient abilities brought on by excessive exposure to the melange. The navigators would breathe the orange spice gas and swallow spice pills, which would afford them the ability to see across vast distances of space, and into the near future. This allowed the Navigators to plot safe courses for ships to travel across vast distances of space via prescience.
Those candidates trained at young ages often became the best and some even reached the highest rank (Steersman). Those taken too young, however, could mutate into ghastly shapes fit only for menial tasks; the worst failures were euthanized.
Because of their limited prescient abilities, Guild navigators were capable of seeing minor aspects of Paul Atreides’ grand designs. Guild Navigators perceived Paul as a threat to their power and indeed the stability of the universe as a whole.
This led to the Guild being complicit in the attack against House Atreides by House Harkonnen shortly after the former took control of Arrakis. A Guild Navigator participated in a conspiracy, as well, to assassinate him some twelve years after Paul became Emperor. The Navigator was primarily used to shield the conspiracy from Paul and those others who had prescient abilities.
Behind the Scenes
In the novels, navigators are first mentioned in Dune as mysterious figures, rarely ever seen by anyone outside of the Spacing Guild.
Later, in Dune Messiah, they are described as being orange people with elongated trunks, enlarged cranium, and webbed hands and feet. In the 1984 Dune movie, Guild Navigators have three stages, with third-stage navigators appear as whale-like beings, suspended in huge tanks of orange spice-gas. Frank Herbert reportedly liked the idea of different stages as mentioned in the 1984 film and incorporated it into his later books. In the Children of Dune miniseries, navigators appear more true to Dune Messiah.